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Aviary Opens Renovated Tropical Rainforest, Complete With Bird-Friendly Glass And A New Waterfall

Jim Cunningham Photography
National Aviary
The Aviary's new waterfall is 15 feet tall.

A familiar room in Pittsburgh’s National Aviary looks like new.

Tropical birds flit freely overhead and perch in the trees of the Aviary’s Tropical Rainforest, which has undergone a $1.2 million renovation. It opened to the public Friday after a ribbon-cutting with local funders and others.

The rainforest exhibit is original to the 66-year-old Aviary, but its iconic dome has been redone with some 3,100 new panes of specially-made glass, designed to rectify a longstanding problem.

“It’s bird-friendly, meaning that it has an acid etching specially designed for preventing bird strikes,” said Cheryl Tracy, the Aviary’s executive director. “We didn’t want birds striking from the inside or the outside."

The new glass should also prevent predatory birds outside from trying to get inside for lunch.

And it lets in more light overall, making the room feel bigger and brighter. In addition, the new glass allows in ultraviolet light "for the health of the birds and the plants," said Tracy.

The renovated rainforest also includes a new 15-foot-tall tiered waterfall, with pools for birds to swim and wade in.

Some of the 60 birds around those ponds will be familiar to longtime visitors to this North Side landmark, including Victoria Crowned Pigeons and Great Argus Pheasants. Additions to the menagerie include Bufflehead Ducks, a military macaw, and Wookiee, the Aviary’s adult Linnaeus’ two-toed sloth.